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Economics Professor Collects on New Book


After receiving a $1.4 million advance for his textbook Principles of Economics, which is now required in Social Analysis 10: "Principles of Economics," Professor of Economics N. Gregory Mankiw is further proof that a market economy can make some people rich--very rich.

In addition to the advance Mankiw got, which is the largest ever for a textbook, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, he can expect to see a handsome profit from sales of the book, which retails at $61.50.

According to The Chronicle, Mankiw's textbook is about to become "the next Samuelson", a reference to the current introductory economics bible.

The approximately 900 students who are taking Social Analysis 10 will also make a contribution to sales of the book.

Mankiw's text replaced Baumol and Binder's Economics: Principles and Policy, a textbook required in the class in past years.

Mankiw's book is highly popular nationally and closely follows the Social Analysis 10 curriculum.

According to Mankiw, the textbook has sold 30,000 copies since its August release, with five translations of the textbook in the works.

Daniel Altman '96, a teaching fellow for the class and a former Crimson executive, said that there were three main reasons for adopting the new textbook.

"First, it more closely follows the class than Blinder, both in order and in sequence," he said, referring to the text that was formerly used in the class. "It's also more concise--[Baumol and Blinder] was not incredibly successful as a teaching tool."

Mankiw said that he agreed to write Principles of Economics in December 1992 and had worked on it part-time until this August.

He attributed his success to the relative shortness of his textbook compared to other such economics textbooks, as well as to his emphasis on macroeconomics and international economics.

Mankiw's first book was an intermediate macroeconomics textbook.

"In 1988, I started teaching [Economics 1010b]," Mankiw said. "I figured, I might as well write a textbook to go with it."

"When Macroeconomics came out, it sold well, and so publishers started coming to me to ask if I was interested in doing a general introductory text," Mankiw said. "The idea of writing an introductory text was very appealing to me."

"When I was a first-year, I didn't have any idea I'd be an economist. My first-year economics course changed my life," he said.

In the past Mankiw was involved in teaching Social Analysis 10. He said that the organizational structure of the course influenced him deeply when he was writing the book.

Martin S. Feldstein, Baker professor of economics, who teaches Social Analysis 10, could not be reached for comment.

Caitrin E. Moran '00, who is taking the course, said that she was pleased with the textbook, which is the primary textbook assigned in the class.

"I think it's very straightforward and explains things clearly," Moran said. "I like the fact that it's concise and doesn't ramble on."

However, other students using the book said that the textbook complemented the course too much.

"It's too easy," said a student in the economics department who asked not to be identified. "I was hoping for some more information in the book, not just the same thing that's covered in class."

However, teaching fellows said that the compatibility between the textbook and the course work would benefit students.

"It's great so far," said Robert Bruce, a teaching fellow in the class. "I think the students have been able to tie together the textbook with section work in a more efficient manner than before."

Mankiw said that the huge advance has not changed him.

"In terms of the advance, it's nice to have the cash. But it hasn't had a large impact in my lifestyle," Mankiw said. "I live in the same house I've lived in for 10 years. I drive the same car. I did buy my wife a minivan, but that has to do with the children needing it."

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